Frets editor Jimmy Leslie was covering Rich Robinson and his Magpie Salute group’s sold-out concerts in New York City during NAMM, so the rest of the editors pitched in to find some cool acoustic gear. This year, there was a nice balance of simple “problem solvers,” innovative ideas, technology tools, and good, old-fashioned craftsmanship.
ART & LUTHERIE LEGACY CW TENNESSEE RED
Why: Godin Guitars revamped the A&L line this year with solid spruce tops, wild cherry back and sides, Godin or Fishman electronics, and lovely semi-gloss “patina” finishes. The line offers three body sizes: dreadnought (Americana Series), concert (Legacy Series), and parlor (Roadhouse Series). I was most captivated by the cutaway Legacy in its lush Tennessee Red finish. What a beauty!
Price: $499 street
More Info: artandlutherieguitars.com
BEDELL REVOLUTION SERIES
Why: Offered in Concert, Dreadnought, and Orchestra sizes, these beautiful guitars feature Adirondack spruce tops and stunningly figured, hand-tuned cocobolo backs and sides. With cosmetic appointments that include pearl rope purfling and rosette, along with turquoise accents on the ebony fingerboards, these impressive new American-made Bedells are attractively priced performers for all they bring.
Price: $3,990 retail
More Info: bedellguitars.com
BOSS ACOUSTIC SINGER AMPLIFIER SERIES
Why: The Acoustic Singer Pro (120 watts) and Acoustic Singer Live (60 watts) appeared to be great-sounding acoustic amps, but that’s not the killer app here. It’s all the extras—independent channels for guitar and vocal, anti-feedback control, and onboard effects. There’s also a built-in vocal-harmony feature and an onboard looper. The sonic and processing power in these amps is just crazy!
Price: $699 street (Pro); $499 street (Live)
More Info: bossus.com
Why: It’s a simple idea touched by genius. The CinchFit makes all those hassles of getting your guitar strap to fit securely over your acoustic’s endpin-output jack go away. Simply attach the CinchFit loop through your strap, open the clasp, and let the magnetic ends clamp down on your jack. The weight of your guitar helps the CinchFit remain locked in place. Brilliant!
Price: $19 retail
More Info: daddario.com
FENDER ACOUSTASONIC 40
Why: I seem to be all about “mini rigs” these days—light, no hassle, portable performance solutions—so I’m really digging this 40-watt, 16.5 lb two-channel acoustic-guitar-and-vocal amp that looks so vintage cool. The Acoustasonic 40 also comes with 3-band EQ, an aux input, and onboard digital reverb. I could definitely do vocal rehearsals, arrangement sessions, and café gigs with this little cutie, and never break a sweat carting it around town.
Price: $199 street
More Info: fender.com
GRETSCH G5021WPE RANCHER PENGUIN PARLOR ACOUSTIC/ELECTRIC
Why: Okay, I simply loved how the Penguin looked, it’s affordable, it’s portable (it’s a “parlor guitar”), and it will class up whatever room I put it in. It has a solid spruce top with maple back and sides, a maple neck and rosewood fretboard, and a Fishman Isys III preamp—all of which is awesome, but it’s the Penguin’s sophisticated super-model looks that got my heart racing from across the showroom floor.
Price: $549 street
More Info: gretschguitars.com
Why: Ibanez alludes to this model as “shredder’s acoustic,” and they’re likely right, but its slender body, slim profile mahogany neck (with satin finish), “soft” Florentine cutaway, and no-hassle string changes (no bridge pins!) make it a good choice for any electric guitarist (or beginner) seeking to play a very comfortable acoustic guitar. It’s also a stunner. That flame-maple top in a Glacier Violet Low Gloss is as sexy as it gets.
More Info: ibanez.com
IK MULTIMEDIA IRIG ACOUSTIC STAGE
Why: It’s a simple and elegant way to get a beautiful, studio-quality sound from a live-performance situation. Just clip the MEMS microphone to your soundhole, attach it to the playing-card-sized preamp/DSP unit, and plug into the house P.A. Voila! I heard the great Jonathan Butler use the system during a NAMM demo, and every nuance of his jazzy funky style was reproduced without annoying squeaks, mud, sizzle, quack, or feedback.
Price: $99 retail
More Info: ikmultimedia.com
TAYLOR ACADEMY SERIES
Why: Designed especially for beginning guitarists, the Academy Series flat-tops are easy to play and deliver very satisfying sounds at affordable prices. The Dreadnought Academy 10e, Grand Concert Academy 12e, and nylon-string Grand Concert Academy 12e-N feature narrower necks (1 11/16" at the nut), slightly shorter scale lengths (24-7/8"), and light-gauge strings to provide a super-comfy playing feel. Even the bodies incorporate armrests to enhance player comfort.
Price: $499-$699 street
More Info: taylorguitars.com
Why: This beautiful playing acoustic-electric is the flagship for Yamaha’s A Series range. Crafted in Japan, the A5 is available with either rosewood or mahogany back and sides, paired with a Sitka spruce top that has been treated with the company’s patented Acoustic Resonance Enhancement process for increased sustain and resonance, along with greater midrange and high-frequency responsiveness. The A5’s new preamp also features Studio Response Technology (SRT), which models the characteristics of vintage large-and small-diaphragm condenser microphones—as well as the ambience of a professional studio environment—for a more complex and organic acoustic tone.
Price: $1,365 retail
More Info: usa.yamaha.com